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Archive for July 13th, 2009

BofA Tries to Stiff Taxpayers

Fascinating story from Bloomberg on Bank of America’s move to walk away from fees associated with $118b. in federal backstop protection. Members of Congress say that the bank should pay at least part of the $4b. in fees outlined in connection with federal support for toxic assets held by Merrill Lynch, which BofA acquired in a shotgun marriage brokered by regulators.

The bank says, not so fast, the feds never finalized and signed any such agreement on the “loss sharing” effort. Ahem.

Quite apart from the he said-he said bit and the few billions at stake, how can both BofA and the feds reverse course on what was sold to the markets in January as an iron-clad backstop for ML assets? Where is the FEC in this? Investors were told, quite explicitly in hopes of influencing their opinion of BofA and of the entire sector, that BofA had up to $118b. in federal backing. Now that it turns out the support was not needed, it is OK to just walk away, to pretend it never happened? Sounds a little too neat and clever.

Almost weekly we are setting dangerous, dangerous new lows in fair dealing with the public as it pertains to the nation’s financial workings.

Update: Excellent comparison of what BofA is trying to do to you or I trying to get out of paying insurance premiums because we didn’t need the coverage.

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Who Wants Sarah Palin?

hhFor a fund-raiser, I mean.

Are there any local candidates willing to bring Palin in? It would take guts and an independent streak, not exactly something we’ve had by the bucket around here.

But if you were plotting a run against Larry Kissell and figured you’d have to get by Robin Hayes in the primary, maybe Sarah becomes your go-to gal. Conversely, does Palin say no to the likes of Hayes, an archetype of the log-rolling, cynical politics she claims to be on the warpath against?

Here’s a fun one — Health Shuler. Would test both Shuler’s supposed “conservative” cred and Palin’s shrewd pledge to campaign for candidates regardless of party. Seriously doubt that ever happens, though.

I do know, however, that it will be very interesting to watch candidates and campaigns navigate around the Sarah Palin question for the next year or so.

Bonus Observation: Richard Burr and Paul Shumaker so deserve each other.

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US Airways dropping PHL-LGW

The Charlotte Chamber likes to think of CLT as a tourist destination. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they have in mind…

US Airways currently has three flights to London:

Philadelphia – Heathrow
Philadelphia – Gatwick
Charlotte – Gatwick

Looking at the airline’s online schedules, it appears that the Philly-Gatwick flights ends in the fall and isn’t coming back next summer. If that’s correct, that leaves the Charlotte route as one of only two flights by a U.S. airline to Gatwick (the other is one of Delta’s two daily Atlanta – London flights). All other London flights by American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, and US Airways are to Heathrow, the greatly preferred destination for business travelers going to the British capital.

With the coming of Open Skys, British Airways shifted their Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta flights to Heathrow and is discontinuing JFK – Gatwick in the fall. They do continue to serve the British tourist meccas of Orlando and Tampa from Gatwick. Virgin Atlantic’s London-USA flights all are from Heathrow except for flights to Orlando and Las Vegas, which are from Gatwick.

So, er, when does US Airways pony up and shift the CLT-London flight to Heathrow? Because if Gatwick where still the place to be, more airlines would still be there…

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